Ulster LGFA Festival of Football – Platinum U14 Final
Cavan 2-5 Antrim 2-13
Both teams went into today’s Ulster Platinum Final, recording 7 victories & one defeat after the Festival of Football round robin series. Cavan’s only defeat was in the final game to Antrim, but by that stage the Breffni girls had already qualified for todays final.
Played in very warm conditions at Emyvale Co. Monaghan, Antrim won the throw in and sent out a message of intent going immediately on the attack. The first couple of forays into the Cavan defense didn’t yield any reward but with relentless work from a strong half forward line, soon paid dividends. Orleigha McGuinness chipped in with 2 points from the wing while her cousin Bronagh converted a free to stretch the lead to 3.
Antrim continued to dominate but failed to convert further scores and with a Cavan point & goal against the run of play, the large Cavan support were given plenty to shout about. The Saffron’s went again on the attack and after a well worked move, full forward Niamh McKinley restored parity with a point from 30m.
For the remaining 15 mins of the opening half Antrim dominated. The saffron defense was solid and with plenty of ball going into their inside forward line, a Cavan defensive structure was hard to penetrate and numerous chances went a begging. At the short whistle and although Antrim dominated possession & territory, the sides were still level at 1-1 to 0-4 with Cavan being the happier team heading into the changing rooms having withstood all that Antrim could throw at them.
The second half started as had the first, with possession won from the throw in, quickly converted into attack and Bronagh McGuinness immediately converted a point to regain the lead. Further dominance at last produced it’s rewards as the ever busy midfielder, Aoife Kelly, rattled the net after a fine team move. Smelling blood, sub Alicia Boyd pointed with her first touch and another Bronagh McGuinness point kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Back came Cavan with a point but hopes of a come back were shortly dashed as Ciara Maguire broke free, punching Antrim’s second goal to the net. Again Antrim pressed and as Cavan struggled to win their own kick outs, Bronagh & Orleigha McGuinness in the 14th minute further stretched the lead. Caoimhe McErlain’s endeavours were rewarded with a point after the water break and 2 further Bronagh McGuinness points opened up a commanding 13 point lead with 10 minutes remaining, Antrim winning the 2nd half at this stage by 2-8 to 0-1 making this the key quarter.
Cavan though did not throw in the towel. A Breffni goal after confusion in the Antrim defense was followed up by a pointed free. Two more Cavan points narrowed the gap the back to 8 with 5 mins remaining. Another Cavan point brought the gap to 7 but fine Antrim play in the final minutes saw Orleigha McGuinness round off a classy display, with a point deep into injury time to seal the first A Grade Ulster title by any Antrim Ladies Football team.
This was a richly deserved victory for Antrim today. Over the years the county have tasted B & C victories and contested (and lost) A finals. In 2019 the record for this squad is played 9 and won 8. The best that any Ulster team can boast.
Although winning by 8 today, Antrim’s dominate performance should have made for a more comfortable scoreline. Erin Duffin & Sarah O’Neill had solid games today in defense. Tiernach Fegan played a strong captains role both on and off the field and was ably assisted by the strong running of Aileen McDonnell & Aoife Kelly. Up front it was all about the McGuinness girls & Caoimhe McErlain, who were central to most of the Antrim attacks.
Well done to the 30 strong panel today who have got their just rewards for the their training since early December. Well done also to the management team of Justin McErlain, Damian McPeake, Ciaran McKinley & Linda Fegan for delivering this first milestone trophy for Antrim Ladies Football
In the end Ulster Ladies President Eileen Jones presented Antrim Captain Tiernach Fegan with the trophy which confirmed Antrim, for the first time, as the best in Ulster.